Medieval pseudo-science in a board game
The Four Humours is a historical theory spanning ancient to medieval times. The theory was used to explain the inner workings of people based on their bodily fluids. Too much of one bodily fluid type would result in certain personality traits, and disorders. Aspects of this pseudo-scienctific theory are still found today in personality tests such as the Myers Briggs.
Four Humours, the board game, explores what being a medieval physician, philosopher, or pharmacist might have been like.
If you’re interested in helping test the game or want to see more artwork, this is our open call for Four Humours playtesters via this Google Form. We have a couple of prototypes to send, and plan to release a scripted version on Tabletop Simulator to those who sign-up. Otherwise, read on to see if Four Humours is something your game group might be excited to play.
Shirley Gong, an award-winning illustrator, masterfully crafts artwork inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e and traditional Chinese painting styles. She brought her beautiful hand-drawn aesthetic, clever character design, and colorful charm to bring the artwork of Four Humours to life.
Each character in the game is split into two semi-circles, representing their two potential personality types. Medicate them to determine their true identities.
Each location card is made-up of unique combinations of citizens that present a prisoner’s dilemma style puzzle to solve.
In addition, there is an underlying inspiration from Monty Python, animal Easter eggs, and musical riddles baked into the artwork.
The Four Humours explores a novel theme of personality traits and temperaments set in medieval times. Historically, life expectancies were much lower, and medical professionals relied on a host of bizarre pseudo-sciences to explain medical issues. The Four Humours was a foundational theory stating that fluid imbalances in people were the cause of temperaments, illnesses, diseases, and disorders.
- Too much yellow bile would make a person ambitious and aggressive, a Choleric temperament.
- Too much red blood would make a person extroverted and creative, a Sanguine temperament.
- Too much black bile would make a person analytical and introverted, a Melancholic temperament.
- Too much white phlegm would make a person loyal and agreeable, a Phlegmatic temperament.
Just like the psuedo-science of the Four Humours, the gameplay experiments with some brand new mechanisms. Although unique, it’s snappy and approachable for 2-6 players. You play as a pseudo-scientist medicating citizens throughout the kingdom and gaining their influence. Medicate enough citizens to claim medical notoriety across the kingdom.
Turns are extremely quick and simple. You choose a particular potion from your hand in secrecy and choose which actor to medicate. Medicating an actor determines their temperament. A citizen’s temperament is kept secret until the end of the round and is used to determine which player won the location via a conditional hierarchy:
One choleric wins, Two+ Snaguine wins, Exactly two Melancholics win or one wins in retreat, and all remaining Phlegmatics win in that order. Once a condition has been met, the heirarchy stops resolving. The hierarchy incentivizes you to cleverly work together with your opponents, or backstab and bluff them to get ahead.
Help Test Four Humours
We’re collecting a list of people interested in helping to blind test Four Humours in the Google Form linked below. We’re looking for players interested in testing the scripted Tabletop Simulator implementation. We have some prototype copies available to send if an opportunity is presented.
This game is nearing the finish line with artwork and development, and we’re ready to share the fun!
Meet the Game Designer and Art Director
With his 2019 Cardboard Edison Award finalist game design, Charlie McCarron is a multi-talented creator. He took the reins as both game designer and art director to bring Four Humours and over 50 pieces of art across the finish line. His passion for the project kept his vision centered and enabled him to inject humorous Easter eggs into the artwork throughout the entire process. Charlie started working on Four Humours in January 2019 but has been forming this concept for over five years.