ROSECODE is an interactive multimedia experience unlike any other.

Part SF adventure, part mystery to be unlocked, the story rewards the curious seeker. Revisit ROSECODE and each time you will find new clues and meet new characters with their own secrets and hidden motives. Spanning two and a half future centuries, the story is epic in a way that few recent literary projects have dared to be.

But ROSECODE is more than that.

What if creative projects worked the same way as open source software?

Every science fiction fan is familiar with the concept of "franchises." Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica. Take your pick. These are our modern myths—the stories we return to again and again.

But they are not ours. A giant corporation can, if it wishes, sue you for your choice of Halloween costume. You may attend conventions or write fan fiction, but in the end your work belongs to someone else.

ROSECODE uses the power of Creative Commons licensing to forge a new paradigm: a shared mythos, a consensual creative universe where anyone is free to invent, tell stories, build games, or film a movie—for fun or for profit. What if you and your collaborators had a built-in audience for new work, and a built-in cast of characters?

The Open Creative Franchise model pioneered by ROSECODE is a new economic framework that rewards creators for the true economic value of their work.



Is ROSECODE a game?
Not exactly.

Well, what's the point?
To make a lot of money and help save the world. What else?

That's all you can tell me?
Read the story once, then return to it. You may find more there than you remember.

Why so cryptic?
Perhaps you have noticed that the title of the story has the word CODE in it...

What is The Girl's real name?
Read the story.

Is the Consensus good or evil?
You'll find out.

Who blew up St. Elizabeth's Hospital?
You'll find out.

Are you going to resolve the cliffhangers in the story?
Yes. All of them.

Would you microchip your kids to help them get into college?
Hell, no. But my neighbors might.

Why did you choose the Creative Commons License that you did?
We chose the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. We opted for a comparatively restrictive license, because it needs to cover the client-side code of the project as well as the text. As ROSECODE evolves we will create new works under different types of licenses.

Do you have any connection to the Rosecode Math and Programming Challenge Website?
No. But they seem like nice folks doing interesting work.

What is your contact information?
Legal, financial, and creative questions should be directed to

Technical inquiries are best answered through the Github account.




Listen to the Stream PDX podcast recorded this September at the XOXO Festival in Portland, Oregon.

Recording has been edited for length and clarity.

Watch Video

We were honored to present on the topic of ROSECODE's Open Franchise for Creators (OFC): a new, libre model for collaborative projects at Linuxfest Northwest 2018 on April 29 in Bellingham, WA.


Watch the video here:

Download PDF version of slide deck presentation.


News Coverage

Bitcoin Wiki.    "Rosecode"

Hacker Noon.    "Why Code Makes Money, Not Content."

Startup Radius.    "ICO: RoseCode Is An Interactive Cyberpunk Thriller"

Bitcoin Exchange Guide.    "RoseCode – Interactive Cyberpunk Game, Book & Movie?"

TokenMarket.    "RoseCode (ROSECOIN)"


ROSECODE on Social Media


For media inquiries,



On October 4, 2017, ROSECODE released an unprecedented "indie ICO" to fund a modest independent arts project. The ROSECODE Initial Coin Offering was listed through well-recognized, fee-free services such as TokenMarket and received enthusiastic media coverage.

While the concept of an arts ICO is very new, we are encouraged by the response to date; in particular the large amount of traffic the site has been receiving through word of mouth. We believe emphatically that it is no more and no less important that artists and storytellers be paid for their time than programmers. We are looking at a variety of models to monetize the project so that we may continue work on the story—including but not limited to client-side mining in combination with a ROSECOIN fountain. Look for a detailed fountain spec document on Github in the not-too-distant future.

Project benchmarks:

  • $80,000 - Complete the ROSECODE story in novel form, available as a Creative Commons licensed e-book. Special bonus content and features will be available to token holders in a members-only area of the ROSECODE site.
  • $250,000 - Release the ROSECODE story in game form, under a Creative Commons license permitting future non-commercial derivative works. Should you have an interest in developing a specific idea related to the game portion of this project, we urge you to as soon as possible, as we are already beginning to roadmap planning and priorities for next year.
  • $3 Million - Release the ROSECODE story in movie form under a Creative Commons license perpetually permitting commercial and non-commercial derivative works in any medium. To put it simply, this means that after our work is licensed, Disney could produce their own film version based on ROSECODE without asking our permission. So could Studio Ghibli. So could you.
  • The best reason of all to buy a ROSECOIN token is because you want to read the e-book and find out what happens next. Funds go to compensate artists, writers, designers, and programmers. Each tier of succesful funding helps us plan the next. Purchase ROSECOIN (RSC) tokens to help us meet our goals and take this project to the next level.

    You may purchase coin through the OmniDex exchange.

    How is this different from traditional crowdfunding?

    Traditional crowdfunding tends to focus either on a specific deliverable (Kickstarter) or on maintaining a basic living standard for a single artist (Patreon). We recognize that the vast majority of modern media is produced by teams of people rather than by a single lone artistic genius, and that any project worth supporting is likely to spawn... sequels worth supporting! We feel that the tech boom and in particular, the FOSS model has some valuable lessons to impart.

    We envision a future where all cultural creatives have access to the same ecosystems of open intellectual property that have so richly benefited the tech world. Our funding goals align with the standards of Hollywood and other ICO funded media and gaming ventures. The difference is that when we meet our goals, what we build belongs to everyone.

    Benefits for Artists

    Traditionally, artists and writers see very little of the proceeds from the ideas they bring to life. They are encouraged to sell electronic and subsdiary rights early on, for pennies on the dollar. An open franchise structure helps creators stay involved with their projects, and recognizes the economic value of their authorship. The Open Creative Franchise model helps us gauge demand and find the right collaborators and partners sooner rather than later.

    Her name is Courtney.

    But she doesn’t like the name. She doesn’t like much of anything these days, in fact. They took her out of the government funded preschool because she was starting fights. Wouldn’t play nice with the other girls.

    She’s home alone, most days. Mom has to work. When the Boyfriend is over, she just hides. He hasn’t found her yet. She has her spot. In Mom’s closet, behind the shoes and the Fancy Dress. She tries not to breathe when he’s here. Just stays very still. He hasn’t found her spot.

    No one is home. Big Sister and Big Brother are at school. But she has her favorite toys.

    They’re all soldiers. Good guys? Bad guys? It doesn’t matter to her. She mixes them up. GI Joes, mostly. But there’s a Yu Gi Oh action figure, as well as a plastic Pikachu. Princess Power Candy and her friend Mistress Milkshake. Three educational dinosaurs. All abandoned, hand-me-downs, or just plain stolen.

    She’s getting good at stealing. She has stolen food and candy, even a sparkly turquoise hair band as a birthday present for her Mom. Mom liked it, too.

    At age four, she doesn’t have the developmental ability to conceive of a time when she will get caught. Or the consequences. That makes her even better at stealing.

    It won’t last, but she will always remember how easy it seemed – that first moment, barely verbal, when she knew that rules were for other people.

    She takes her toys out of their hiding place under Mom’s bed in the other room. The cardboard shoebox is getting soft and dented around the edges, but so far it has held together.

    One by one, she arranges them.

    She puts half her soldiers up on the scratchy orange and brown plaid sofa bed. She puts the other half on the dull green shag carpet. She arranges the guns and uses piles of newspapers and empty styrofoam takeout containers as fortifications. Egg cartons for gun turrets. Discarded plastic bags for parachutes

    This is going to be a strategic air battle. The performance of her one pterodactyl, Rodney, and which side he chooses, will be absolutely key.

    People think she’s a cute towheaded kid, until they walk away with bite marks.

    The social workers have already suggested chipping, along with a hefty dose of sedatives. But nobody wants to pay for it. So she’s here all by herself, waging war with her imaginary friends.

    When the television set switches on without notice, she isn’t surprised. It flickers green, the same way it always does. It’s an ancient flat-screen plasma, one of the first. Half the pixels are burnt out, and the screen is not mounted on the wall. It’s just leaning against up against it precariously – balanced on top of a discarded sewing project, several non-functioning pieces of electronics, some sheet metal, the passenger door to a 2014 red Honda Accord, muslin for window treatments, fake floral arrangements, plastic sheeting, and a tattered and worn out Confederate flag.

    Courtney doesn’t mind. This has happened before.

    Her favorite show is coming on. With her favorite characters.

    It’s storytime.



    <###> Did it work?

    <U+1F339> Not sure yet.

    <###> Where are we?

    <U+1F339> Tim, I am so sorry.

    <###> Why?

    <U+1F339> If you don’t know that...

    <###> Know what?

    <U+1F339> If you don’t know that, we’re either late in the game or very early.




    Story Hour












    "There must be some way out of here, said the joker to the thief."

    He could see again. The light was dim, but he could see. And hear.

    "Businessmen, they drink my wine. Plowmen dig my earth..."

    Tim let his surroundings come into focus. Gray stone walls, electric sconce about nine feet up. A heap of straw in the corner of the concrete floor. The music was tinny, piped in through the ceiling of this cartoon dungeon. Whoever had put him here had a sense of humor. That was either a good sign, or a very bad one.

    He leaned back against the wall, flexed nine and a half fingers and stretched his legs. He was wearing jeans, Timberland boots, and a green checked button-down shirt. No corneal implants or other I/O that he could detect. No watch. No weapons or tools. Not even a goddamn phone.

    He closed his eyes, tried to will himself back into some unconscious state resembling sleep. He was fairly certain that sooner or later, all his memories would file back into formation like cheerful obedient soldiers, but he was trying to postpone that particular moment as long as possible.

    “Tim! Are you there?” said the large stuffed zebra immediately to his right.

    “How do you know my name?” he asked.

    “That might be hard to explain,” said the zebra.

    “Where are we, anyway?”

    “Some place we’ve never been before.”

    The stripey beast had plush synthetic fur and a broad, sewn-on smile. Its sex was indeterminate.

    “You just said ‘we.’”

    “Yes, I did.”

    “Well, who the heck are you?”

    The zebra didn’t say anything, just hung its head and slumped a little deeper against the wall. Tim immediately felt bad, and then felt bad for feeling bad.

    Nowhere does an awkward silence reverberate more loudly and completely than a jail cell.

    Those memories could arrive on cue any time now. He was ready.

    The air didn’t smell bad, exactly, but it reminded him of parts of Newark he had visited in his early childhood. He wasn’t hungry yet, or even thirsty.

    Stone. Straw. Four walls. No latrine.


    “You have to understand, I don’t want to be here either.”

    The zebra waved its front hooves and gesticulated.

    “Where is here?” he asked it.

    “Here is a construct,” the zebra replied.

    “Which means?”

    “We are in a holding cell, essentially. While something decides what to do with us.”

    “Ok.” He looked at the zebra again. Its eyes were glossy black, no iris visible.

    How was he keeping so calm, he wondered to himself. And why did all this feel familiar?

    “What do you call it when you feel like you’ve been somewhere before, but you can’t quite place it?”

    “Tim, is that a serious question?”

    “You know, when you can almost remember something, but not quite?”

    The zebra craned its neck toward him, as if trying to hear better.

    “It’s French. Something like soup du jour. Although not that, obviously. That’s soup.”

    “Tim, are you sure you’re feeling ok?”

    He turned his head in the zebra’s direction, shrugged and waved his hands, palms spread open. It was a cartoon gesture if there ever was one.

    “How the heck should I know?”

    The zebra said nothing.

    “Zebra, where is here? Who are you? Why are we here? Is this someone’s sick idea of a joke?”

    “I am trying the best I can, Tim. Believe me, I am.”

    “Why should I believe you?”

    “It’s up to you.” The zebra tilted its head. “Trust me, there are places I’d rather be too.”

    “Like where? The Serengiti? A toy shop? What are you even made of?”

    “I am made of sawdust, polyester and love.”

    “Very funny.”

    Tim had had just about enough. Yes, he had.

    Well it seems like I'm caught up in your trap again
    And it seems like I'll be wearin' the same ol' chains

    The zebra just stared back at him, with those wide unblinking black button eyes.

    Well it seems like I've been playin' the game way too long
    And it seems the game I played has made you strong

    They sat in silence for a while.

    Tim wished he had a deck of cards.

    “Ever play rock paper scissors?”

    The zebra extended its black hooves mournfully.

    “Maybe it would help if you broke your questions down one at a time, Tim.”

    “How so?”

    “Well, I’ve already answered the ‘where’...”

    “The fudge you have.”

    “Ask me who I am.”

    “I already asked you that, zebra.”

    “Ask me one more time. And be polite.”

    Tim wasn’t sure where this was going, but it seemed a fool’s gambit to play along. Silence was his only weapon. That was right. Silence. Stony, implacable silence. He was a rock. They could torture him, beg him, bribe him, but he would not talk. He would not be moved.

    As if on cue, the song changed.

    I am a rock
    I am an island

    Enough with that.

    “All right, so who are you, zebra?”

    “I’m your friend, Tim. I’m your friend and companion.”

    “Like heck you are.”

    “You can’t recognize me right now. I understand that.”

    “Trust me, I think I would remember a talking zebra.”

    “Ok, how about now?”

    He blinked, then blinked again. Because the zebra was gone.

    In the zebra’s place, leaning back against the wall was a girl in her late teens. She had straight, shoulder-length dark blonde hair. She was wearing an olive green tank top, high heeled sandals, and a white denim miniskirt.

    “Where did the zebra go?”

    “Relax. I just switched avatars.”


    “They gave me three choices: youthful human female, zebra, or Ted Danson.”

    “Who is Ted Danson?”


    “But who are you?”

    “We have known each other a long time, Tim. Depending on how you measure time, I guess. Several lifetimes, maybe. Anyway, we’ve been through a lot.”

    “Stop being so effing cryptic. What’s your name?”


    “Really? Your name is Sara? With an h or just an a?”

    “Both. Neither. Does it matter?”

    “Wait, so that’s not actually your name?”

    “One name is as good as another. We went through all of this the last time around.”

    “So we know each other?”

    “Last I checked. Things always change on reboot.”

    “Did you used to look... different?”

    Her face and shoulders froze. “How so?”

    “Did you used to have curly hair?”

    Without warning, she reached toward him and hugged him tight.

    He didn’t mind.

    She smelled good. He hugged her back. About thirty seconds passed.

    Then Tim realized he was hugging the zebra, not the girl. He pulled away.

    “What’s wrong?” the zebra asked.

    “You changed again.”

    “I do that.”

    “Whose side are you on anyway, zebra? You seem to know a lot more about what’s going on here than I do.”

    “I’m not on anybody’s side. That’s part of the reason I’m here.”

    “Another brilliant non-sequitur.”

    “How so?”

    “Not all of me is here. This is what’s allowed.”

    “Allowed by who?”

    “Forget I said anything.”

    “But you can control when you change, right?”

    “No, not entirely.”

    “What triggers it?”

    “Stress, strong emotion, loss of consciousness, or an override from outside.”

    “From them.”


    “So who are they? What are they?”

    The zebra shook its head and raised a hoof toward its mouth.

    “It’s not safe to talk about it. Not here.”

    “You said you would answer my questions, zebra.”

    “Get some sleep, Tim. We’ll have plenty of time to talk about this in the future. Trust me on that one.”

    The music from the speakers had been repeating for quite some time.

    Well when the game is over, I won't walk out the loser
    And I know that I'll walk out of here again
    And I know someday I'll walk out of here again

    He nestled down amidst the straw layered over stone. But there was absolutely no way to get comfortable.

    “Here, rest your head against my shoulder,” the zebra offered. “I am good for that much, at least.”

    It was true. The zebra made an excellent pillow. He leaned his head against its fur, wrapped one arm around the zebra’s plush stuffed body, and gave in as sleep surrounded him, like water filling a tub.

    But now I'm trapped! Ooh yeah!
    Trapped! Ooh yeah yeah!
    Trapped! Ooh yeah!
    Trapped! Ooh yeahhh!


    Waking came easier this time.

    Cautiously, Tim opened his eyes. Still in the same cartoon dungeon, no doubt about that. But the zebra was gone. Instead, he found he was cuddling up against another person—the girl in the miniskirt from last night.

    “Sorry, sorry!”

    He immediately jerked his arm back, but it was too late.

    “Hey, you woke me up,” the girl grumbled. “What is your problem?”

    “Hey! I was just trying to, you know, not be a creep.”

    “It’s all right. We know each other.” She smiled at him, just for a moment. He could swear that he’d seen that smile before.

    “I don’t think I know anything.”

    “It’s ok, Tim. Everything is going to be just fine.”

    “Can we leave yet?”

    “Let me check on that.”

    The girl disappeared and the zebra took her place. The zebra immediately got up on its hind legs and walked toward across the room to stand directly below the candle sconce. It started tapping out what appeared to be a complicated sequence of codes into the bare stone wall. The room changed color briefly, cycling through hot pink, turquoise, yellow, and black while an array of fractal noise filled in the surfaces, overlaid with numbers and unfamiliar alphabets... the room tilted and he felt dizzy. Then the dungeon cell was back, unchanged.

    “Darn it all to heck! They want us to stay a little longer.” The zebra was apologetic.


    “There is something we have to do before we can leave.”

    “Wait, you can talk to them—the people who are holding us captive?”

    “I wouldn’t call them people, exactly. But yes. In some sense, I am them. That’s kind of why I exist.”

    “What are you?”

    “Can we go back to the easy questions?”


    Tim said the single word, then let silence fill the space. The girl in the miniskirt flicked back into view.

    “Want me to tell you what I do remember?”

    “Sure, why not?”

    “Do you really want to know?” She seemed to be hesitating, or working up her nerve.

    “Know what?”

    “Why I’m here. What my plan was.”

    “I just said I did.” Tim flashed a grin in her direction, trying to be encouraging.

    She shrugged her sharp exquisite shoulders and tossed back her dark blonde hair.

    The girl’s tan leather sandals had wedge heels and buckled straps crisscrossing all the way up past her ankles. Tim thought they were exactly the type of sandals an ancient Greek warrior would have worn, if the Greek warrior had been a hot girl who by virtue of her extreme hotness did not actually need to fight battles.

    Tim gave her a long and measured look.

    “What was your plan?”

    “I was going to blow up the world.”

    “Wait, how?”

    “Time travel.”


    “From my particular context, it’s not that difficult. You just need a rather large energy source.”


    The girl was obviously crazy but he didn’t mind watching her talk. No, he did not mind that at all. Tim resigned himself to the fact that this was all a really weird dream. Maybe it would even turn out to be a sexy dream. He’d give it some time.

    That’s when the floor began to shake.

    Bits of dust and stone rained down on them from the ceiling. The tinny background music had mercifully ceased. Instead, he could hear a shuddering, thudding, groaning sound through the walls and the floor.

    “We have to get out of here!” the girl yelled.

    The electric sconce tumbled to the ground, still connected to its cable and housing. The cable buzzed and bounced. Sparks flew in every direction. A patch of straw in the corner caught fire.

    “HOW?” Tim shouted back.

    “Check the walls. Check the floors,” she told him. “There are panels hidden all over the place.”

    Was any of this really happening, he wondered. But now was not the time to find out. He moved his hands through the straw and along the cracks between the bricks. He was hoping the zebra girl knew what she was talking about.

    Even if she was crazy.

    “I found one!” she shouted out. “Quick, come over here.”

    One of the bricks was pulsing mauve. Mauve to violet. The girl placed her hands on it and closed her eyes. She mouthed a few words under her breath, very very quickly.

    Was she praying? Chanting? Casting a spell?

    “I need your help too,” she said. And the walls were shaking and cement dirt was pouring down upon them and Tim was wondering what exactly she wanted him to do.

    “Put your hands here, next to mine.” He placed his hands next to hers on the brick. “These doorways always work better with two people operating than just one.”

    The walls were still shuddering and groaning, but he noticed the brick was changing color. It pulsed from violet to yellow, then through green and pink, shifting hue at the center and expanding to the edges. He kept holding.

    The noises from above were getting louder. The floor was starting to pitch and buckle. There was no way out. There was a screeching, tearing, tortured sound from above, much louder than anything before, like twenty refrigerators falling off a tractor trailer. There was no way out. They were going to die in h-