The Bard's Tale IV Update 27: NOLA Office Update, Production Status, and the Fichti

kickstarter2016-02-12 12:48:55

Hello everyone,

When we last updated you on our project, we had only just started on the brand-new inXile office. We’ve moved at lightning speed to get everything set up, bringing in new hires and moving people over from the mothership to maintain the consistent culture and quality standards of inXile. We’ll continue to grow as the project moves forward but we have a solid core staff in place to work on every facet of the Bard’s Tale.

A peek into the growing NOLA office.
A peek into the growing NOLA office.


Additionally, as we mentioned last time we’re deep in pre-production, working out the groundwork of the game. As we’re moving full-steam ahead we’re going deeper into the process of exploring the game systems, which means lots of prototyping, experimenting with different ideas and creating working systems, as well as the supporting interface design and presentation to make them feel awesome. With each prototype and technical iteration we’re finding more exciting opportunities to build on the combat system we described in the touch point doc. We’ll continue to keep you updated on our process, and as we move forward share more details or even glimpses of what we’re working on.

Speaking of, the world is one of those things that is more solidified now. Here’s just a taste of what we have been building.

The Bard’s Tale IV pre-alpha screenshot (click for a larger version).
The Bard’s Tale IV pre-alpha screenshot (click for a larger version).


The game's visuals are just one piece of the puzzle, and our Lead Writer Nathan Long has been doing a fantastic job building out the different factions and races. I’ll now turn things over to him to give all of you another glimpse at our world...

Lore Update – The Fichti

Nathan here.

Caith is the land in which we set our story, the land of Skara Brae. It is a land of stone-fenced fields, vast forests, windswept mountains and rocky shorelines at the northern end of a island in a northern sea. In Caith's lowlands live the Dael, ruddy, hardy farmers with a feudal society of knights, dukes and castles. In Caith's great northwestern forests live the Fichti, short, dark haired hunters and gatherers who keep to the older ways of tribe, clan and totem. On the shores and isles of Caith's rugged north east coast live the Einarr, descendants of Norn raiders, but now settled fishers, shepherds, and sailors. The three cultures don't mix very much, but they all think of Caith as their home, and occasionally, if the threat is great enough, they all come together to defend it.

Right now, I'd like to talk to you in detail about one of those cultures, the Fichti.

Culture of the Fichti

The Fichti are a tribe of nature worshiping humans who see themselves as the guardians of the deep forests of northwest Caith. They are a small, wiry, dark-haired people, known for painting themselves in woad and wearing clothes made from skins and pelts. They live in small villages protected by wooden palisades and survive primarily by hunting and gathering, though they also sell furs, antlers, honey, and game meat to their Dael neighbors to the south.

Though the Fichti are a matriarchal society, both men and women lead. Each village has both a Mother and a Father, as well as a Grandmother. The Mother and Father are often married, but don't need to be - they don't even necessarily need to be the same sex as their title - although the Grandmother is always a woman.

Village Mothers are the leaders in all things pertaining to organization and justice in the tribe. It is they who settle disputes among villagers and who negotiate with other villages. They are the lawmakers and peacekeepers. The village Fathers - regardless of sex - are the leaders in all things pertaining to defense. They maintain the village's fighting cohort and investigate all threats. They do not have the power to make war on their own, but once the Mother orders that war be fought, the Father is the one who leads the fight.

The village Grandmother is a priestess of Mother Hazel and Father Oak, tending to all matters spiritual and ceremonial, making sacrifices, consulting auguries, presiding over rituals, healing both the body and the mind of her flock, and seeing to the burial of the dead.

Religion of the Fichti

Unlike the other peoples of Caith, the Fichti worship actual entities, not abstractions or totems. Grandmother River is a major river that runs through their lands. Mother Hazel and Father Oak are actual and particular hazel and oak trees, giants of their kind. Likewise, the animal gods who are the children of Hazel and Oak are actual and particular animals who live in the Fichti's forests - nigh-immortal animals of unusual size and supernatural powers - but animals none the less, that live and sleep and hunt and can be seen in the real world.

This makes the Fichti especially protective of their lands and secret places, because their gods can be destroyed, and if their gods are destroyed their culture dies - and if their culture dies, they believe they will die as well.

The Fichti's religious leaders are all women, known as Sisters of the Sacred Grove, which is the grove where the two massive trees, Mother Hazel and Father Oak, face each other across a bend in Grandmother River in which is reflected Grandfather Sky. Thus all four of the prime gods are present in the glade, making it the holiest of holy places. This is where the leadership of the Sisterhood live and train young women to become priestesses, and since many of the mysteries there are not to be seen by men, the guardians of the grove are Spear Daughters, young women of a martial nature who are also trained there.

Magic of the Fichti

Magic in Fichti society is strictly the provence of the priestesses. Young girls who show signs of occult potential are quickly taken into the Sisterhood. Boys who show occult potential are generally killed. Men, it is believed, do not have the temperament to safely control magic.

This doesn't mean that magic is not practiced by men, or outside the Sisterhood. There are rebels in Fichti society just like in any other. Sometimes parents will hide the occult potential of their sons or daughters. Sometimes young men and women will discover power within themselves and practice in secret.

Many of these outlaws find their way to the Lodge of the Black Dog, a coven of renegade Fichti witches and warlocks who don't believe that magic requires a moral or religious basis. The lodge dwellers are not necessarily evil, but neither are they safe or sane, and have no compunction against seeking out power and artifacts that other Fichti would consider cursed or taboo.

Relations with the Outside World

Although they understand they live in the land of Caith, the Fichti do not feel much kinship for the Dael or the Einarr, the other cultures who share that land. The Dael they think of as weak farmers, too civilized to survive alone in the wilderness. Still, there is little animosity between the two cultures unless some greedy Dael sneak into the woods to poach game or timber. Other than that, the Fichti are happy to trade furs for axeheads with their soft southern cousins, for the one thing they do like about the Dael is the strength and sharpness of their steel.

The Einarr are the Fichti's traditional enemies, going back to the days when Einarr longboats would glide onto the shores of the inner sea and Einarr raiders would sack Fichti villages and take captives and plunder. The Einarr don't raid anymore, but old grudges die hard, and no Fichti shakes hands with an Einarr without checking after to make sure all his fingers are still there.

The Fichti have no real relationship with the Dwarfs, who don't make a habit of roaming around the northern woods, but they are the race of men who have the closest relationship with the elves, though they still regard them as beings to be mistrusted. They honor the elves as the original rulers of the forests, but also believe they abandoned the world when it needed them most, and left it to men to save it from the Famhair. They also fear the elven habit of luring away Fichti men and women who appeal to them. At the same time, the elves have often helped the Fichti against the darker horrors of the forest, and have taught them much of magic and the land, so they are grateful for their kindness.

A Fichti saying that illustrates this conflicted relationship is, "Take elven wisdom, not elven wine." This refers to the belief that any advice freely given by an elf is safe to take, but any time food or drink or a bargain is offered, it is always a trap, and must be avoided at all costs, or the Fichti who made the deal, even if they didn't know a deal was being made, could end up as playthings for some elven lord or lady, trapped forever in the Realm of Coill.

Nathan out.

Shout-Outs and News

Today we have a handful of other projects to share with you. First, our good friends at Harebrained Schemes have just released Shadowrun: Hong Kong - Extended Edition, which contains an additional 6+ hour bonus campaign free for all existing owners and new buyers. Check it out if you like their unique brand of turn-based tactics and cyberpunk.

Next, a small break from our usual gaming fare to bring you a sci-fi film project. Uprising is a post-apocalyptic comedy which celebrates robots in games, film and television culture. When four MIT grads unleash an AI, they inadvertently bring about an Armageddon of life-sucking Roombas, self-driving Priuses that hunt down human survivors, and just good old fashioned killer mechs. The project is just past its halfway point, so if you like the sound of it, take a look.

Last, we’d like to raise a glass to the Torment: Tides of Numenera team in Newport. Torment has been in development since 2013 and has hit a major milestone with the release of its beta and is now also available on Steam Early Access. If you would like to take a look at our thematic successor to the Torment legacy, you can join in this early version now and help us make it better.

Matt Findley
inXile President & Studio Lead – inXile New Orleans