Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
12 days in a town devoured by plague. It's an enemy you can't kill. It's a game where you can’t save everyone
12 days in a town devoured by plague. It's an enemy you can't kill. It's a game where you can’t save everyone
12 days in a town devoured by plague. It's an enemy you can't kill. It's a game where you can’t save everyone
7,139 backers pledged $333,127 to help bring this project to life.

Cards on the Table

23 likes

It’s about time we put the cards on the table.

No, we’re not talking about that thing in the dungeon; it’s not supposed to be talked about. We’re merely referring to the Pathologic Tabletop game—or rather The Pathologic Tabletop Game that Gets Released This Spring and is Totally Finding Its Way into the Hands of the Eligible Backers and Everyone Else Who Wants It. (Or TPTGGRTSTFIWHEBEEWWI, as we like to call it.)

Having started as a side project and a mildly original backer reward, Pathologic Tabletop has grown to become its own thing. Ice-Pick Lodge provided general vision, art direction, and texts, but the game itself was developed by CapsLock Games—our partners and friends, who came up with the idea in the first place. We would have never dared invade the dark and twisted world of tabletop games without their boldness; and so it’s about time we told you where it has lead us.

Pathologic Tabletop is loosely based on its videogame namesake; save for the fact that there are fewer Bound (Adherents; Wards; For-Crying-Out-Loud-Can-You-Choose-ONE-Name-For-’Em), it follows the same general idea. Three healers, one Plague—and a town filled with brilliant and desperate people wondering what they have done to deserve this.

The game was designed for 2-4 players. The number of doctors can vary, but one of the players always represents the Sand Plague itself. ”Represents” is a tricky word though; while not necessarily corporeal, the Plague definitely has a strong personality; it’s not really “represented”, but rather proactive. Unlike the videogame, in Pathologic Tabletop it’s you who decides where and how exactly it strikes.

And you will have to think on your feet, since a typical session takes 1-1.5 hours, and any player, be they the Plague or a doctor, will need to do a lot in that timeframe.

Oh yes, by the way; we may have failed to mention that Pathologic Tabletop is mostly a PvP game. Although “PvP” is also a tricky word, so more on that below.

 Asymmetry

The game is balanced asymmetrically. The Plague’s gameplay is very different from the doctors’, while each of the three also has their own perks and strong suits. Their goals are also different.

Basically, you begin the game with the Town sleepy, but full of healthy people. Each healer has an agenda; their goal is to collect a certain amount of evidence and prove that their way of overcoming the plague is superior to the others’. To do that they need to fulfill missions, seizing the opportunities that the course of life provides—while the sleepiness is dispelled and people around them begin to die. (New missions are unlocked each turn and serve as the PvE part of the game.)

 Each healer also has three Wards (i.e. Bound people; i.e. Adherents; i.e. don’t worry, the rest of the names are consistent with the Classic HD translation), who they have to take care of. As with the video game though, these people refuse to sit on their hands, preferring to jump into the action; they can complete missions too—providing you with crucial evidence. The game’s map represents the town, so sometimes it may be handy to send someone else in your stead—perhaps they’re simply closer to the mission location, or perhaps you need that for a subtle strategic gambit (e.g.: feeding an opponent’s Ward to the Plague).

As a doctor, you’ll have to think twice before sacrificing someone else’s Ward to the Plague (even though it establishes your superiority over their obviously deluded methods). First of all, Wards can provide you with resources and free hands (you can use another doctor’s Wards as means to your end, so they are all your allies—after a fashion). But more importantly, any dead Ward can spell another step towards the Plague’s victory.

While the healers are busy with petty squabbling and plotting, each so fond of their ego that they only accept a single kind of victory—that is, the victory achieved in their own way, the Plague’s plan is graceful in its simplicity.

Kill people.  

Kill. Them. All.

...Actually, that’s not true. Each healer has three Wards (so there are nine total). The Plague only needs to kill one Ward of each healer, selected randomly at the beginning of the game and known only to the Plague itself. So its goal is more like:

Kill people.  

Kill. Three. People.

The Plague can choose its modus operandi as it sees fit though—no one’s stopping it from indulging in a senseless bloody massacre. It’s not like it can’t kill people who are not on its hit list. Just not doctors themselves.

To sum it up, each doctor tries to get enough “mission complete” points and secure their personal victory. The Plague wreaks havoc and brings death.

The people themselves wince, remembering that one night when they decided that staying to live in this town is probably a good idea.

 Abilities

The healers’ playstyles are also different, which is represented by them having special decks with cool abilities to throw in the Plague’s face. Or in each other’s faces, which is arguably more fun.

The Bachelor is famous for his administrative prowess… which is to say, he’s good at manipulating people. His abilities mostly influence the Wards and the availability of districts.

The Haruspex is the master of resources—he always sits on a pile of them, ready to complete any resource-heavy mission in the blink of an eye; him knowing shortcuts to move faster serves to aid that even further.

The Changeling can hinder other healers’ progress and manipulate the poisonous traces of the Plague itself.

Finally, the Plague has the coolest perk available in the game: it’s slow, but completely invisible to other players. It doesn’t even have a token to represent it on the board, writing its movements down into a special notebook instead. It can manifest itself at will, but aside from that its communication with the healers mostly boils down to them desperately trying to track the beast—to avoid it or to strike back, whichever is more appropriate.

 Atmosphere

Remember how we said that Pathologic Tabletop is a “tricky” PvP? That’s because it is indeed tricky.

The game has but one winner; if you’re a healer, but a different healer succeeds, you’re left with nothing to show. The Plague, however, is so irrevocably lethal that in order to have a shot at the game at all, the rest will have to cooperate. Which leads to a delicate balance with someone backstabbing someone else sooner rather than later—and the rest is roleplaying.

Pathologic Tabletop is a social game. You’ll have to talk, trying to sway other players to your side (at least for one mission! please!), hatch a plot together and cooperate to complete a mission that hurts everyone while active. And if you feel that you’re losing, you’ll also have to decide which you like better: having another doctor grab the victory—or letting the Plague burn it all to ashes. What kind of person are you?

It’s not like you wanted to be invited to play in this company ever again.

...and the Rest

Pathologic Tabletop is mechanically robust. There are a number of the game’s aspects that we have barely touched (the Plague’s strains and Blockade; the healers’ Pacts; the quarantine and the whole resource management angle; etc)—but hopefully you’ve gotten the general gist.

Here’s the same gist without needless verbosity—with bullet points:

  • 2-4 players; 
  • a session takes 1-1.5 hours; 
  • PvP with cooperation elements and social gameplay; 
  • asymmetrical: the Plague plays very differently; 
  • three doctors with various abilities; 
  • the doctors need to complete missions swiftly and smartly; 
  • the Plague needs to kill people while keeping its stealth advantage; 
  • the town’s map totally resembles its videogame counterpart; 
  • there will be shouting.

The game is available for pre-order via the Pathologic Backer Portal. You can throw it on top of your general order—and if the tabletop game is the only thing you’re interested in, simply select any tier; then in “Choose Tier” in the Dashboard select “no reward” and proceed to select the tabletop game as an add-on.

After the release, it will first be delivered to the people who have already pre-ordered it. It will also be available in some shops, although we doubt that we’ll be able to deliver it to many retail vendors outside of Russia—if at all. Actually, if you believe that you can help us out with distributing Pathologic Tabletop in Europe/North America/other regions, please contact tabletop@ice-pick.com!

In any case, buying online will always be available to everyone.

And, unlike before, you’re not buying a cat in the bag now, since the cards are already on the table. See the video below to witness the actual cards.


(The trailer features the beta version of the game and is not completely representative of its final quality. Which is to say, the tokens will have actual faces instead of Tragedians on them—and this is not the only difference. We just can’t help being a bit mysterious to the very end. Thank you for your kind understanding of our unfortunate addiction.)

The Russian version of the update is here. Русская версия апдейта — здесь.

Comments

Only backers can post comments. Log In
    1. Missing avatar

      Jacob Wolnowski on March 20, 2016

      When will this be going out to backers?

    2. Laputan Machine on March 5, 2016

      @Danko: Honestly, I think 1-1.5 hours of playtime per session sounds like a pretty damn good amount. Less than that and the game would probably have to be simplified, and Pathologic is supposed to be complex.

      Also, there are plenty of tabletop games (and pen-and-paper games, for that matter), that go on for hours at a time. So I have to say, I'm not buying your argument here. :)

    3. Missing avatar

      Ben W on March 3, 2016

      Contrariwise, most German-style games tend to be 20-30mins *per player*, and that's what most of my group plays, and most local gaming weekends are booked around. So, YMMV.

    4. Danko on March 2, 2016

      Thank you for the response!
      About writing things down: I don't know, it feels like it might be breaking immersion from the game process a little bit, keeping a separate notepad and writing things down as you play. There could be some other mechanism to track plague's movements, like some other games use for trackers (see tracker panels with little cute cubes in Progress, for example!). I don't think it's some great problem, just maybe something to keep in mind.
      I really hope there would be some mode for shorter (up to 30 mins) rounds though!
      Really cool about 2 player mode! Would love to hear more about the game later!

    5. Ice-Pick Lodge 2-time creator on February 29, 2016

      @Danko, thank you for the thoughtful comment!

      Why do you think writing the position down may end up being tiring? This is not something that our playtesting would suggest; please tell us more about your line of thinking!

      As for 2-player sessions, the idea is that the single doctor gets a combined deck that has a number of ability cards of all the three characters; so they become a kind of jack-of-all-trades doctor. Also, all the Wards/Adherents are still present in the game (even though some of them are... orphaned?), so the scope feels the same.

      The one-on-one duel with the plague feels slower and more strategic; having a single opponent leads to obviously playing against them—which in this case means trying to find it and plan ahead. It feels more chess-like in a way. Is it trickier to play? Depends on personal preferences, really; on the one hand, yes, a single doctor has less actions. On the other hand though, unlike 3-on-1 sessions, their actions are never sabotaged at least—not by their own team anyway. They can be sure that a plan conceived will become a plan executed, so we'd say every way of playing has its prons and cons.

    6. Danko on February 29, 2016

      Rainer, there are entirely different teams working on tabletop and the video game, but I guess you're just being a douche.

    7. Missing avatar

      Rainer Woreck on February 28, 2016

      Nice to see you have so much free time on your hands with all the work that is left to do on the computer game.

    8. Missing avatar

      Danila M on February 26, 2016

      Yay! Finally update!

    9. Danko on February 26, 2016

      Whoa. I love the idea, but on paper it sounds a little overly complicated. Some warning flags:
      1) 1+ hr per session? this is very long. Unless it's as complicated and involved as Arkham Horror, this worries me and possibly calls for rebalancing. 30 min for 2 people and 60 min for 4 people is much closer to reasonable. We regularly play all kinds of tabeltop games 1v1 and everything that's above 30 mins per session gets tiring very quick.
      2) Invisible plague that writes its moves in a notepad? It sounds a little tiring, are you sure that's going to be fun to write it all down?
      3) The plague must kill just 3 people? I don't know. For the great and mighty plague, this doesn't sound like a worthy enough goal. Hard to say for sure without playing, of course.
      I really like your description for atmosphere/pvp part. That sounds amazing!
      In any case, don't get it in your head, I'm still waiting for the game (well, both games!) eagerly. Bring it on!
      Quick question - how much balance do you plan to put on playing with only 2 players? I understand plague is tricky to defeat even with 3 doctors, what about just one?

    10. Laputan Machine on February 26, 2016

      So friggin' hyped! The game looks amazing and I really like the friend-or-foe dynamic of having to cooperate but also work against the other players.

      By the way, is there a slight chance we could possibly see large versions of the concept art from the beginning of the video uploaded somewhere? (I'd love to have the Abattoir or the Dogheads as a desktop background.) Pretty please? I'll bring you cookies!