I find myself a bit stumped at the question about Zarfian Forgiveness.
Let’s focus on Broadsides. It is possible to die in Broadsides, which IMO automatically means that it’s not “Merciful,” though it is impossible to get “stuck,” in the sense that you’re unable to make the plot progress. Furthermore, the game doesn’t have an UNDO feature, which maybe disqualifies it from being Polite; all actions are irrevocable.
We went to some effort to guarantee that it’s impossible to die early on in the game; no single action can cause the main character’s death (or cashiering or other bad endings). To find yourself in a no-good-ending state in the last chapter, you’d have to have failed at (almost?) every earlier chapter earlier in the game.
But no one of those failures are damning, so it’s never “obvious” that any one of them is a fatal mistake. So, on a fairly literal reading of Zarfian Forgiveness, Broadsides is Cruel. But that just doesn’t ring true to me; our automated tests show that you can get a non-death ending most of the time just by playing at random.
We also tried to guarantee that even the death endings are pretty cool, so even the “bad” endings feel fun.
So what are we, anyway? IMO, our game feels Polite, in spirit.