On Top of the Table
I’m Liu Sukhinina, and my job is making Pathologic the tabletop game. It’s time to come out of the shadow and tell you a little bit more about what it looks like.
That's not a tabletop game. That's me.
First of all, please keep in mind that while the visual and narrative design of the tabletop game is created by the Ice-Pick team themselves, its gameplay is being developed by a different team that has more experience with board games. The team is: Fuad "Funt" Kuliev, Andrey "Lenoran" Salik, Elena "Joker" Vishina, and me. We’ve been making games for more than seven years. Each of us has their own experience and tastes, but if there’s something we do have in common, it’s our love for original Pathologic and desire to make a great engaging game based upon it.
Making a tabletop Pathologic game is hard. There’s too much story, too much detail, too much weird charm that’s hard to put into words and that we desperately want to keep. We’ve tried different approaches, but in the end decided to use the main plotline of original Pathologic, the plot points and characters you know and love.
Our main goal was keeping the key features of Pathologic: hard choices and the inevitability of sacrificing something. Or someone. The main characters of the game will be The Bachelor, The Haruspex, and The Changeling, each of them having several Adherents (Entwined? Binded? The translation hasn’t been finalized yet), just like in the original. And just like in the original, events will happen that will threaten their lives. If the main characters fail to intervene, the Adherents will—and keep in mind that their lives are much more fragile.
On the other hand, we didn’t want to copy Pathologic—why do the same thing? And yes, a board game is always different from a digital one, that’s the nature of it: real people are always more stubborn, generous, and unpredictable than any computer-controlled character can be. Still, we wanted to go one step further and try to do something that the original didn’t dare to: grant real free will to The Plague.
The Plague is one of the characters here. Quite an unusual one though.
So what does it look like in the end?
Tabletop Pathologic is intended for 2–4 players. Its events unfold on a well-known map of the Town. Players can choose to become The Bachelor, The Haruspex, The Changeling, or The Plague—unseen, frightening, and deadly.
Each turn an event happens on the map. The doctors and their Adherents view it as a mission to be completed, which is their only way to win (and there can only be one winner in the end!). But these events are simply bait for The Plague, a signpost that helps it catch its victims faster. Each player (including The Plague) will have to evaluate risks and decide what’s more important: being cautious and maintaining security? Or making their step to the victory as quickly as possible?
Or maybe spoiling someone else’s victory?
Each doctor has their own deck of additional actions that allow them to influence what’s happening while demonstrating their worldview, character, and modus operandi. The Plague will have to move stealthily while infecting districts and trying to catch the victims whose death would be irreparable to the Town.
This fight won’t be very long (one session takes 60–80 minutes), but it’ll be very tense.
I’ll tell you a bit more about the game later. We have a working prototype that’s becoming more and more polished by day now. And we’ll keep you informed! You can learn a bit more about the game on our website.