Writing a Monograph (Guide)
A guide on how to write a Monograph in The Archaeological Institute.
Writing and publishing a Monograph is similar to Assembling a Skeleton, but with some significant differences.
- For a useful cheat-sheet with only tables, for use in planning, see Writing a Monograph (Guide)/Tables
Before you Start
First you will need to unlock access to The Archaeological Institute in Moulin. This requires going on expeditions to raise Para-Archaeologist, then Constructing an Archaeological Institute at the Offices of the Tracklayer's Union: Moulin Branch. There are a total of three levels of Moulin Archaeological Institute, with higher levels unlocking more buyers.
Gathering Research Materials
In addition to providing the Para-Archaeologist needed to construct the Institute, Moulin expeditions are the most efficient way to gather the materials needed to write your monographs. The Moulin Expeditions guide has an explanation of how to conduct expeditions optimally, but for the purposes of this guide it's important to note which expeditions are useful for which kind of materials:
- The Deep Layer provides materials that increase Cautionary and Tragic.
- The Silvered Front provides materials that increase Ironic
- Across the Zee provides materials that increase Cautionary and Ironic
Notably, while you can grind Ironic materials exclusively, you cannot get Cautionary or Tragic materials without getting something else at the same time. This is not a problem, as exceptional monographs require all three qualities, but it has implications for how to best grind materials.
Writing and Publishing
Writing and publishing a Monograph is essentially a series of 4 parts and optional planning:
- (optional) Planning your monograph so you get the right qualities and the right buyer
- Begin composing a new Monograph to start
- Continue writing your Monograph until it is ready to finish
- Finish your Monograph
- Publish your Monograph
Choosing a topic
The topic you choose to write your Monograph on will determine:
- The initial Approximate Value of your Monograph in Pennies
- The initial value of one Monograph quality ( Cautionary, Ironic, or Tragic)
- Which three Buyers you can sell to
- Object of Historical Study, which is relevant if you have a Moulin statue that uses this quality
Furthering your Monograph
You will then go on to expend resources in order to further your Depth of Historical Study and change the proportions of Cautionary, Ironic, and Tragic in your monograph. Each research action taken will result in an increase of +1700 x Penny Value ( 17) and a net increase of 50 of Cautionary, Ironic, and Tragic.
Failure has the exact same results as Success except it also adds 5 x Monograph: Incoherence. The only exception is Unlawful Device, which will provide Wounds if failed. Note that once you have Depth of Historical Study 7, you will no longer be able to remove Incoherence from your Monograph!
Finishing your Monograph
While there are four options available depending on Depth of Historical Study and Monograph: Incoherence, the only thing that matters is whether or not you publish an exceptional thesis. Publishing an exceptional thesis nets an extra reward item worth 12.50 from Buyers and unlocks the option to purchase particular statues.
Finding a Buyer
This is the part where you sell your completed monograph. You will have three available Buyers that depend on your Monograph's topic. If you applied a Corrective Historical Narrative while your Colour at the Chessboard was Black, you will have an additional Buyer available.
Each buyer will pay out in a mixture of three different items. Rounding aside, the total value of the three rewards will be equal to the Approximate Value, minus 1% for each level of Monograph: Incoherence. The distribution of the three rewards will match the proportions of Monograph: Tragic, Monograph: Ironic, and Monograph: Cautionary that your Monograph has. For example, if your Monograph has 200 Tragic, 100 Ironic, and 0 Cautionary, then 2/3 of your Monograph Value will be paid in the item associated with Tragedy, 1/3 in the item associated with Irony, and you will receive 0 items associated with Cautionary. If your Monograph is exceptional, you will receive an additional bonus item worth 12.50.
To make writing monographs worthwhile from a profitability standpoint, it is important to always aim to Conclude an exceptional thesis on the subject, which has three requirements:
- Depth of Historical Study 7
- All three of Monograph: Cautionary, Monograph: Ironic, and Monograph: Tragic.
- No Monograph: Incoherence
Avoiding Monograph: Incoherence is ideally done by succeeding all the writing checks, which requires Mithridacy 12 and Glasswork 10. Some of the relics from The Deep Layer have an easier Mithridacy check, but since it is impossible to grind those without picking up other materials, it will be inefficient in the long term to rely on them exclusively. If the ideal skill values can't be reached, then Monograph: Incoherence will sometimes need to be removed with a Revisionist Historical Narrative or Corrective Historical Narrative before the final research step. Once Depth of Historical Study reaches 7, Monograph: Incoherence cannot be removed, so those with less than ideal stats should save an easier writing check for the last step before finishing the monograph to reduce the risk of having Monograph: Incoherence sneak in when it cannot be addressed. The cost of obtaining Narratives means that removing Monograph: Incoherence cuts significantly into the profitability of monographs, so the worse the odds of succeeding all checks, the less viable this is as a money grind.
In order to plan your monograph efficiently, consider using Writing a Monograph (Guide)/Tables as a handy reference sheet.
Several of the items that monograph buyers pay out are difficult to acquire in quantity elsewhere. Some of them (such as Final Breaths) can be obtained more efficiently on a per action basis elsewhere, but with less overall profitability. As such, when writing monographs it is often worthwhile to target a specific payout that is of value beyond its monetary worth by biasing the monograph toward a particular quality while still having a little of the other two to keep it exceptional. The general rule of writing with regards to monograph qualities is:
- Monograph: Cautionary lowers Monograph: Tragic (with the exception of Trace of the First City)
- Monograph: Tragic lowers Monograph: Ironic
- Monograph: Ironic lowers Monograph: Cautionary (with the exception of Trace of Viric)
With that in mind, there are two general strategies for targeting a specific payout. In the first, you start with a topic that adds your target quality, spend four actions writing to improve that quality, then use the final two writing actions to sprinkle in the other two qualities without reducing your target quality. The second involves picking a topic with a starting quality that will not be reduced by grinding your target quality, such as using a Monograph: Tragic topic when your target is Monograph: Ironic. Then you can spend five actions improving your target quality and one action adding in the third quality at the expense of your starting quality. Examples of both approaches will be provided below. In either case, the final result is usually close to 500 of your target quality, 100 of a secondary quality, and 50 of a tertiary quality, but specific topics can modify that, and varying your approach can help with expending research materials evenly.
Since Monograph: Cautionary and Monograph: Tragic materials cannot be farmed without picking up a second type, some forethought is helpful when planning expeditions to gather research materials. If you're focused on a Monograph: Tragic payout, for instance, sooner or later you'll end up with a surplus of Monograph: Cautionary materials. It's a good idea to identify an alternate payout to target using that surplus so that you can benefit from it. It's also worth noting that The Deep Layer and The Silvered Front expeditions provide the pattern-breaking research materials that are often helpful for maximizing a specific payout, so as a general rule those two expeditions will be the most useful, although Across the Zee will still be a useful gap-filler for some strategies.
Simple Scrip Grind
Every item The Disgraced Diplomat pays out in (with the exception of the bonus bottle of wine) can be sold on the Upper River Exchange for scrip, so if you don't want to worry about prioritizing a specific quality, writing exceptional monographs for him is a simple grind. Start with The Fourth City's Decline or The Fourth City's War against Hell as a topic and follow the circle of research (Ironic to Tragic to Cautionary) to ensure that no quality gets reduced to zero. Finish it as exceptional, sell, and repeat. One of the payouts is in Knobs of Scintillack, so if you use the Renegade Claw as an assistant on expeditions, this helps make that part of the grind more self-sustaining. Since you only have to make sure no quality ends up at zero, you're also free to vary the proportions in order to use excess materials of a certain type.
Backstory without Breaths or Bones
The Disgraced Diplomat pays out Moves in the Great Game in proportion to the Monograph: Ironic of your monograph, which can be used for Cover Identity: Backstory. Grinding breaths in the Hurlers provides better Backstory per action, and selling exceptional monographs to The Exiled Antiquarian provides breaths and a Parabolan Orange-apple, which can be converted to further profit in the Bone Market, but the Diplomat has his place for those who would prefer to avoid selling skeletons as much as possible, and as a way to burn excess Monograph: Ironic materials leftover from selling to the Antiquarian.
The ideal starting topic would be London's Relations with the Khanate but that requires a Vienna Opening, which is difficult to source efficiently, so instead we'll rely on Fourth City's Decline. Examine Viric-tinged Trinkets five times, then finish with either Monograph: Tragic material. This will provide a payout of:
- 7 x Knob of Scintillack
- 148 x Moves in the Great Game
- 33 x Ambiguous Eolith
- 1 x Vital Intelligence
- 1 x Bottle of Greyfields 1882
If you have Vienna Openings to spare, using London's Relations as a topic will give you a better proportion of Moves and allow you to use any Monograph: Ironic material four times before adding Cautionary/Tragic in the final steps.
The Exiled Antiquarian provides a Parabolan Orange-apple for exceptional monographs, a useful item that is otherwise expensive to source, and she also pays out in Final Breaths which are useful for Backstory. Once again, we start with The Fourth City's Decline as a topic, write for Monograph: Cautionary four times using any appropriate materials, then Examine Viric-tinged Trinkets once and finish by using either Monograph: Tragic material. The final payout will be:
- 33 x Memory of Distant Shores
- 3 x Unprovenanced Artefact
- 165 x Final Breath
- 1 x Parabolan Orange-apple
To help vary the research materials used, you can also Write about the War in Parabola for your starting topic. Use any Monograph: Cautionary material except Trace of the First City five times, then finish with either Monograph: Tragic material. This route does cost a Drop of Prisoner's Honey, but it eliminates the need for Monograph: Ironic materials, simplifying your expedition priorities (i.e. you can just hit The Deep Layer over and over).
As above, we're selling to The Exiled Antiquarian, but in this case we're prioritizing the Memory of Distant Shores payout for up-conversion into Collated Research. If you have Favours: Hell to burn and don't want to wait around for card draws, writing about The Expulsion of Roses lets you fold a 4 echo cash in into starting the monograph, but for the purposes of grinding, the two topics to use are The History of Arbor or (once again) The Fourth City's Decline.
With The History of Arbor (or The Expulsion of Roses) as a topic, write for Monograph: Tragic four times, then for Monograph: Ironic once (do not Examine Viric-tinged Trinkets), then Examine traces of the First City.
Correspondence Through Prayer
While salacious newspapers are the most action-efficient way to grind Correspondence Plaques, The Militant Curate offers an overall more profitable alternative through bulk Maniac's Prayers paid out for Monograph: Cautionary.
Start with The History of Port Carnelian or The History of Gaider's Mourn as your topic, then write for Monograph: Cautionary five times without using Traces, then finish using Monograph: Tragic materials. Upconvert your Maniac's Prayers in bulk as you go to get your Correspondence Plaques, and if you have A Submerged Rector, you can sell the Verse of Counter-Creed on A Jurisdictional Dispute for Scrip. As of now, however, it is probably more efficient to write mostly Tragic monographs for the The Militant Curate, getting Extraordinary Implication, upconverting them into Uncanny Incunabulum, then selling those at the Rat Market for Maniac's Prayers.
Shepherd Amidst the Wolves
The Diabolical Propagandist is the best source of Infernal Contracts in the game, bar none. This is primarily only notable for Shepherds of Souls, but it who knows what other uses may crop up? With this, it may even be reasonable to Unleash Baseborn & Fowlingpiece to deal with Suspicion (or perhaps that's a stretch).
Pick The Campaign of '68 or The Fourth City's War against Hell as your topic, then write for Monograph: Tragic five times before finishing with a non-Trace source of Monograph: Ironic. This approach favors Brilliant Souls over Muscaria Brandy as your secondary payout.
Alternatively, use The Revolution in Hell or The Expulsion of Roses as your topic, write for Monograph: Tragic four times, then for Monograph: Ironic (non-Trace), before finishing with Examine traces of the First City. This approach favors Muscaria Brandy as your secondary payout (and allows you to optionally burn a Favours: Hell for more value).