The Little Match Girl 3: The Escalus Manifold

“The Snow Queen controls her servants with Shards from the Mirror of Belial,” Ebenezer Scrooge explained…

The third installment in the Little Match Girl series will enjoy an official public release on March 3rd, which is 3/3/2023. But clever people (primarily Josh) have found a way to access the game a week early!

In “The Escalus Manifold,” the little match girl teams up with several new friends (and at least one old friend) to level up, cast spells, and land critical hits in an effort to foil the villainous Snow Queen. I hope you get a kick out of it.


“What does the little match girl even do? Like, what is her main deal? I didn’t play the first two games”

The best answer to this question would probably be to quote the first page of the instruction manual:

The Little Match Girl was once an extremely poor little girl with no name whose father forced her to sell matches in the street. Whilst attempting this occupation in vain one horribly cold New Year’s Eve, she almost froze to death, but managed to survive by activating a mysterious ability to travel through time and space by looking at fire. This discovery led to her adoption by the famed philanthropist Ebenezer Scrooge, who christened his new daughter Ebenezabeth. Since that fateful night, Ebenezabeth has learned to leverage these strange powers in her new occupation as time-traveling assassin.


As just announced on IFDB, The Little Match Girl 3: The Escalus Manifold was released to the public today! This is a finely balanced text-based RPG. I had a lot of fun with an earlier version of this last month, and this version has bug fixes and an additional area added, so I’m looking forward to playing through again.

As far as I can tell, the game link on mobile does not include the instruction manual, which is a PDF linked on the browser version of the game’s page. For accessibility purposes, I am pasting the raw text below, but I much prefer the nice formatting of the PDF.


i n s t r u c t i o n m a n u a l

About the Little Match Girl
The Little Match Girl was once an extremely
poor little girl with no name whose father
forced her to sell matches in the street. Whilst
attempting this occupation in vain one horribly
cold New Year’s Eve, she almost froze to
, but managed to survive by activating a
mysterious ability to travel through time and
space by looking at fire
. This discovery led to
her adoption by the famed philanthropist
Ebenezer Scrooge, who christened his new
daughter Ebenezabeth. Since that fateful
night, Ebenezabeth has learned to leverage
these strange powers in her new occupation as
time-traveling assassin.
But she won’t be able to handle her latest
assignment without some help…

The Party System
In The Little Match Girl 3, Ebenezabeth will
team up a bunch of other adventurers to form
a “party.” This creates sort of a weird situation
for text parser purposes.
When the narrator refers to “you,” it usually
means Ebenezabeth specifically. The “you”
taking actions outside of combat is normally
Ebenezabeth. So, outside of combat, you’ll use
a command like WEAR AMULET to make
Ebenezabeth wear an amulet, but PUT
AMULET ON WHOEVER to make someone
else wear it. (TAKE AMULET FROM
WHOEVER will cause whoever to take off the
amulet.) In combat, the agent of a command
will be whichever character you’re currently
The INVENTORY command displays only
what Ebenezabeth is carrying, but this

basically functions as the party’s common
inventory. In combat, anybody can USE
Ebenezabeth/the party is holding the potion.
(Paraphernalia carried by other party members
is stuff you don’t really have to worry about.)
The STATUS command gives you the basic
information for all party members. You can
LOOK AT a party member to see their
detailed stats—including any amulets they’re

Combat Basics
Battles in The Little Match Girl 3 follow the
conventions of JRPGs like Final Fantasy or
Super Mario RPG, where a round of combat
begins with each unit deciding whether to
attack or cast a spell or whatever. After these
choices are locked in, the unit with the highest
Speed statistic goes first, and then the next-
fastest unit, and so on down the line.
I do not know how ties are resolved. Inform 7
handles that part. It might be down to which
unit is named first in the source code.
When it’s time to give commands to your
units, they will appear in order of their Speed
stats. This might seem odd (it won’t always be
Ebenezabeth who takes orders first) but it
should be helpful strategically.

The most basic action you can take is of course
ATTACK WHOEVER. Although each playable
character has their own name for it (SHOOT or
STAB or whatever), they’re all synonyms for
the underlying Attacking action. You can just
type A WHOEVER if you’re looking to save
The DEFEND option increases the unit’s own
Defense and Resistance stats by 5 for the
length of the current round (including before
the unit’s turn actually comes up).
When entering a command for a transitive
action (like ATTACK), you must stipulate the
target of the action. If an ability’s description
says that it affects “an enemy” or “an ally” then
it’s probably transitive, but if it refers to “all
enemies” or something then it’s probably
intransitive, so, don’t specify a target for that

You can use the INVENTORY and EXAMINE
commands during combat without wasting a
Ebenezabeth’s weapon is her Colt revolver,
which she must RELOAD from time to time.
Outside of combat, you can check her stats or
the revolver itself to see how many bullets are
chambered; you may also RELOAD outside of
combat if need be.
When an enemy unit falls to 0 HP, they
typically leave the battlefield. When a party
member falls to 0 HP, they faint and can no
longer act. If your entire party faints, you lose
the battle! But if you beat all the enemies,
then you win the battle.

If you don’t feel like memorizing all this, there’s
an OPTIONS command in the game that’ll
give you the rundown.
By default, descriptions for all of a character’s
combat options are displayed when it’s time to
pick that character’s action. The COMPRESS
command will change that to a shorter list,
and the DECOMPRESS command will restore
the more detailed list. I recommend leaving
this this “uncompressed” at first, and then
“compressing” after you have a good handle
on your combat options. (You can always see
the full rundown of a character and their
actions with the LOOK AT WHOEVER
By default, there’s a “press any key” prompt
after each unit takes its turn. I think this makes
it more dramatic (and easier to follow) than

having all the actions of a round show up at
once. But you can use the FAST BATTLE
command to turn off this effect, or the SLOW
BATTLE command to re-enable it.
By default, the list of units in each party shows
up at the beginning of the round (and
whenever you LOOK). If you’d rather not scroll
up to see that list in the middle of assigning
actions, you can use the TOGGLE FULL
COMBATANTS command to make this list
appear at each combat command prompt.

How Each Stat Works
Level: Generally, individuals with higher Levels
are stronger than individuals with lower Levels.
Affinity: A unit gets a bonus to the damage of
spells it casts that match its elemental affinity.
It also takes less damage when it gets hit by
spells of that element. (There are no fancy
inter-alignment interactions, so Ice-aligned
individuals do not take extra damage from
Fire-aligned spells.)
HP: This is how much damage a unit can take
before it keels over.
Attack and Defense: The damage dealt by a
normal attack action is the attacker’s Attack
stat minus the defender’s Defense stat. This
calculation also applies to some other non-
magical offensive abilities.

Magic and Resistance: The damage dealt by a
spell attack is the attacker’s Magic stat minus
the defender’s Resistance stat. A character
with a higher Magic value also has a better
chance of inflicting additional effects on the
targets of their spells; a character with a higher
Resistance value has a higher chance of
resisting such effects.
Speed: This determines the order in which
combatants act.
Skill: This is the chance (out of 100) that a unit
has of scoring a critical hit with their normal
attack action. A critical hit deals double the
damage a normal hit would (so if a normal hit
would deal 0 damage, so does a critical hit).
A defending unit whose Speed is higher than
the attacker’s Skill has a chance of evading an
attack entirely. This applies to normal attacks
and simple spells, but certain more powerful
abilities aren’t subject to this calculation.

Leveling Up
Most enemies, once defeated, leave behind a
tiny Mirror Shard. Ebenezabeth and her allies
wear Silver Phylacteries for the purpose of
collecting these shards.
The simplest command for putting a Mirror
Shard in an ally’s Phylactery is USE SHARD
ON WHOEVER. When you do this, the wearer
of the Phylactery will level up!
The bonuses for leveling up in this game
follow Fire Emblem rules: Each party member
has an underlying “growth” value for each
numerical stat that represents the likelihood of
that stat increasing when they level up. So
some levels will be better than others, and the
results are somewhat random and not entirely
fair. But the game should be easy enough that
this won’t be a big deal.

A character who levels up may also learn a
new ability, which is a much bigger deal. Make
sure you try out all your characters’ abilities!
Just so you know, no playable characters will
learn any new abilities beyond level 5.
You cannot remove a Shard from a Phylactery
to give it to someone else. But there should be
enough Mirror Shards in the game for all
playable characters to reach at least level 5.
So, don’t stress about it too much. Just relax.
It’s supposed to be fun.

Some Advice
• Pick your battles. A lot of encounters are too
much for Ebenezabeth to handle on her
own. If a challenge is too hard, don’t bang
your head against it. Go look at something
else, and come back to the hard part when
you’re better prepared.
• Don’t worry that you’re messing something
up. I don’t think there’s any way to reach an
unwinnable state, or miss out permanently
on an opportunity. I guess it’s possible to
spend your Mirror Shards unwisely though.
• It’s okay to lose a battle. You’ll just respawn
at a convenient spot nearby.
• It’s also okay to run away. There’s no
penalty for fleeing.

“The Little Match Girl” and Ebenezabeth Scrooge
are copyright © 1845 Hans Christian Andersen.
All rights reserved


I think you can link the Instruction Manual PDF directly: does that work on mobile?


Oh, it does; I’m just always leery about linking directly to PDFs for some reason. Must be an out-of-date habit from a simpler, lower-bandwidth time.


I hope you will forgive me for pointing out that this game has been rated five stars by IFDB user Sobol, who typically only gives five stars to stuff like Citizen Kane, or the Iliad.

A lot of work went into this game, and I like to think it’s something really special.


Does anyone have any tips on getting party members?

I forgot about how the fire mechanic works so I stumbled around the snow region a long time. I found three more regions, and won some fights, but now I have pockets full of mirror-shards and no one to join me. I’ve been to Hawaii, deimos, and the old british place. I’ve tried giving the phylacteries to everyone I see, but it says it doesn’t work. I have no idea how to even begin getting a party, and I’m worried I’m missing lots of party-full content while killing things on my own. The only person I know is a potential party member is the mermaid, but I don’t know how to satisfy her request.

Any tips? Getting even one party member would be fun!


In the pink region, Honolulu, you can recruit Eunoia the mermaid, but to provide her with legs you will need something from Wessex—specifically, a potion (as Eunoia herself suggests, I think).

In the gray region, Deimos, you can recruit Cole the rancher, but in order to recover his missing heifer, you will need something from the green region.

In the brown region, Wessex, you can recruit Hrieman the crow, but you’ll need something from Deimos—specifically, a lasersaw that’s lying around in an abandoned house. I think.

In the green region, whoops! You’re not there yet!


Thanks! I’ll try this all out!

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I restarted and found a companion early on (the crow) and drew an actual map and it’s been great!