As we said earlier, we need to do a better job of explaining the game. The rules are being worked on now, and will be available on Wednesday. In the meantime, here is the first in a series of updates about important key concepts and features of the game.
Before we delve into the details, we need to look at the core structure of the game. This is the essential framework into which everything else fits, and will help to make sense of all that follows. It may also help you to understand how much content there already is in the core box, even before you add the many stretch goals.
The Solomon Kane board game is a re-telling of the famous tales by Robert E Howard. They are stories of high adventure, swashbuckling derring-do, and villainous skullduggery. Our hero is an implacable foe of evil, and never hesitates to do the right thing, no matter the cost to his own safety.
The game reflects something of the structure of the books, and uses terms that mirror the way stories are told in print: Adventure, Act, and Chapter.
An Adventure is the name we use for a whole tale. Each Adventure recreates one of Howard’s novels or short stories, such as Red Shadows, Rattle of Bones, or Wings in the Night. As Howard’s original stories are of various lengths, so are our Adventures.
We break each Adventure down into one or more Acts. Each Act takes a long gaming session of several hours to complete. The exact time it takes varies with the number of players, their experience, and the choices they make. Alternatively, you can play an Act over several sessions, using the save system that comes with the core game to keep track, so you can pick up where you left off.
Each Act is divided into 10 Chapters, each with its own set of cards. However, each Chapter is not a single, fixed step in the tale. Instead, Chapters have variants (Chapter 3A, 3B, or 3C). A few rare Chapters have only one version, most come in 3 flavours, and a few have up to 5 or even 6 possibilities. When you play through an Act, you will only see one version of each Chapter at most, and depending on your choices and actions, you may not see any of some of them. This is because the tale Howard told is only one of the possible ways a story could be resolved, and here we offer you many more futures for you to guide Solomon Kane through. You may follow the path that was written, or you may carve Kane’s destiny anew.
Each Chapter is either a story or a scene.
A scene Chapter is like a scene in a movie. It is one of the important moments of the plot, where a key fight, conversation, search, flight, interrogation, pursuit, or anything else dramatic and important to the narrative takes place. These are the parts of the game that use the board and miniatures. In the background of the normal world of Solomon Kane and his adversaries lurk the immaterial forms of the Shadows and Virtues who fight their own battles for Kane’s soul. You might want to think of each scene Chapter as the equivalent of a scenario you’d see in a game like Stuffed Fables or Mice & Mystics, or (to a lesser degree) like Mythic Battles or Joan of Arc. This means that there are many dozens of “scenarios” in the core box.
A story Chapter is a short narrative link between scenes. These are not set up on the board. Instead, they give the players a moment to catch their collective breath and prepare for the next onslaught. It is usually a time for players to discuss their plans for the future, and what way they can best use this interlude to bolster themselves, and Solomon Kane, for his upcoming challenges.
An Act typically includes about 60-70% scene Chapters.
So, if you played a whole Act in your gaming session, you would usually play through 5-6 scenes, and interleave some story Chapters between them.
A natural side effect of this number of alternative paths through a story is a large amount of replayability. Every time you play an Act, you will see less than 30% of the Chapter cards.
As you only see a minority of the Chapter cards each time, you are likely to miss whole threads of the plot. The next time you play may take you down a whole new path. I’ll give you a couple of examples.
In The Blue Flame of Vengeance, Solomon Kane has to decide whether or not to follow young Jack, and possibly help him if the dubious characters he is with start causing any trouble (which they may – who knows?). Normally, he would not hesitate to go to the assistance of an innocent in potential peril. However, there are also rumours that the vessel of the pirate captain Fishhawk has been seen just off the coast, and Kane has been trying to get his hands on the villain for years. Every time Kane has got close, the vile cutthroat has slipped through his fingers at the last moment. The trail seems fresh right now. If Kane waits then Fishhawk will surely be gone. Now is the moment to scour the coastline, and hunt through the grog houses and taverns. If he is truly here, that’s where he will be hiding. You must choose one of these paths, and you cannot do both. Whichever choice you make, the other plot will continue without you on its own path. The echoes of the actions you did not take will reappear later, with the outcome differing from the one you could have created. Like real life, you make choices, and have to deal with the consequences.
I’m trying to avoid too many spoilers, so lets be a bit more generic for a second example. Hero or not, there are several tales of Howard’s tales in which Solomon Kane is captured. In the game, this may or may not happen, because we have expanded on Howard’s work to include many “what if’s”. What if he saved the Traveller in the Skulls in the Stars, or failed to save Mary in Blue Flame? What if he didn’t get captured, or if he did at another point in the story?
Another good example of story divergence is with these episodes in captivity. Obviously you won’t see the Chapters about the escape from the cells if Kane doesn’t get captured in the first place. And sometimes your fellow prisoners can be important characters too, like the ancient priest in the Moon of Skulls. Not meeting him makes the story progress on quite a different line.
Perhaps it would also be helpful to compare the Solomon Kane game to a book or film. Most people are happy to re-read a favourite book many times, or watch the same film over and over. Books and films don’t change at all, and yet for almost everyone there is no problem with repeated reading or viewing. The fact that we know how they end doesn’t deter us. So why is it a problem here? Our Adventures have even more reason to return as they do change each time, they do have differing endings, and you are part of creating the story. A new one every time.
As always, if you are interested in any of our add-ons, simply click on the green “manage your pledge” button near the top of the page. Then increase your total by the amount of any add-ons you wish to include in your pledge. So, if you have a Puritan pledge ($110) and want to add the Heart of Africa ($55), you would increase your total to $165. If you decide to add Right Hand of Doom later ($10), simply click on the green “manage your pledge” button again, and add that amount to your total. You can change your pledge as many times as you want while the campaign is running.
Note that during the campaign there is no way for you to tell us what the money you pledge is actually for, so don’t worry about that now. Instead, after the Kickstarter is over we will send you a “pledge manager”. This allows you to tell us exactly how you want to allocate your pledge, which add-ons you would like, how many core boxes, and (most importantly) where we need to send it all!
(Pour retrouver cet update en français, cliquez-ici)